Fulton Rotarians heard about the upcoming Morels and Microbrews festival at Wednesday's meeting.
The festival began in 2011, when the idea was thought of by Garry Vaught and Tom Riley. The first festival was held in 2012.
Vaught said he wanted to host a morels festival, but didn't think he could get enough morels for the whole event. He decided to combine it with craft beer because he knew many people in the industry, and there was nothing like it in mid-Missouri.
"...so I thought let's just combine both," Vaught said. "And if one fails, the other one will resume hopefully."
He said the first festival had around 100-200 people, and only 12 breweries. The budget for the first festival was small, but Vaught said it was a success.
"I had a blast, it was like I threw my own party. Next year, we do it again, seems to grow. 11 years now, it's not as fun for me, but it is fun when we're all done and we can look back on it and say 'wow, there were a lot of people who came in town,'" Vaught said.
Morels and Microbrews received the Pathfinder Award in 2022 from the Missouri Division of Tourism. This award is given to an event or organization that develops a successful niche tourism market in a community.
Vaught said around 50 different breweries will be at the 2023 festival. This year's festival will also include around 10 homebrewers, Vaught said.
There will also be some distilleries and wineries present, including Serenity Valley Winery.
"We like it because it's a four hour festival. It seems like a long time, but once you get going that day, it's over with in a flash. And we pick up the tents and get Court Street right back open," Vaught said.
The street will be closed the night before the festival to allow for tents and booths to be set up.
The festival will be on Saturday, May 6 from noon-4 p.m. in the Brick District.
Tickets will be required for beer tastings. The fresh and fried morels, food trucks and live music are free to the public.
This year's festival will feature live music from The Kay Bros.
1,400 beer tickets will be sold this year, Vaught said. 1,280 tickets were sold for last year's festival.
Blaine McQuaid Pestle said this is the main fundraiser for the Brick District for the year. The money raised from the festival has been used to donate to the Brick District Playhouse and to support other local businesses, Vaught said.
To learn more about the Morels and Microbrews festival, as well as volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, visit thebrickdistrict.com/morels-microbrews.